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Ex-Assistant Claims Mayor Retaliated

NEWARK (CN)- The former secretary of the City of Orange's mayor was fired for refusing to sleep with the mayor and commit "political crimes"while she worked for the mayor.

Laverne Ballard is suing Mayor Mims Hackett and thecityin Federal Court after she was fired for "insubordination." Ballard was hired in 2004 as the mayor's executive assistant. The mayor would return from lunch drunk and make sexual advances toward Ballard, commenting on her outfits and her "curves," she claims.He allegedlyordered Ballard to attend a conference in Indianapolis where he gave Ballard his room key and invited her up to his room to "hang out," but Ballard refused.

Soon after the conference, Ballard says she began to question Hackett's expense receipts that she felt were fraudulent. Ballard claims she refused to submit the receipts and told the mayor's chief of staff that Hackett was double-billing the city for items such as alcohol, taxi rides and lunch dates.

Ballard was also forced to volunteer to work on the mayor's campaign to be re-elected to his second political office in the State Assembly and to act as his real-estate secretary and manage his privately owned apartment buildings, she claims. She says she was threatened with losing her job if she refused to go along with any of the illegal activities. She is represented by Ronald L. Washington from Atlanta.

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